This was stated in an investigation of Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), published today, February 8.
“After Angela Merkel canceled the Normandy format meeting in Astana and Vladimir Putin wasn’t invited to the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation, a major escalation started in Donbass (mid-January 2015)”, the CIT reported.
The bloggers emphasized that Debaltseve is a major transportation hub, giving Donetsk a railway link with Luhansk and Russia
It was also noted that separatist control of Debaltseve would allow faster troops movement and increasing military aid from Russia.
The fact that Russian military took part in the battle for Debaltseve has been reported by Russia’s “Novaya Gazeta” , as well as a Vice News documentary. According to these sources, Russian soldiers at Debaltseve were ordered to shoot to kill at any Ukrainian soldiers trying to escape the pocket.
The team discovered the profile of Evgeniy Usov, a soldier from the 6th Separate Tank Brigade which participated in military hostilities near Debaltseve. They found out that on February 14, 2015, Usov posted a picture from a hospital ward taken in the Burdenko hospital in Moscow.
The full text of the investigation is available here.